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'988' nationwide mental health crisis and suicide prevention hotline to launch in 2022

The three-digit number will make it easier for those in need to connect with counselors.
Credit: NCM

WASHINGTON — By July 16, 2022, there will be a nationwide hotline to help with mental health crises and suicide prevention.

The move to designate "988" as a universal hotline for those in need was first approved by the Federal Communications Commission in 2020. The plan created a two-year timeline to make the three-digit number operational nationwide, with calls routing through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 

That leaves just more than six months before the number is in use. The couple-year period was granted to allow providers time to address technical issues and ensure a smooth implementation, according to a press release.

“Once fully implemented, 988 will save lives and is a critical component to ensuring people in crisis are diverted from involvement in the criminal justice system and connected to appropriate services and supports,” National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) CEO Daniel H. Gillison, Jr. said at the time of the "988" designation.

Those who'd rather use the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's 800 number can continue to do so even when the shorter number takes effect.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis text "NAMI" to 741741 or call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story misstated the extent of NAMI's role. The story has been edited for clarity.

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